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Leonardo da Vinci

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  11,732 Ratings  ·  1,330 Reviews
The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on
Hardcover, 600 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Simon Schuster
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Roger Stone Absolutely buy the book! It weighs four pounds and covers over 525 pages, many filled with excellent reproductions of Leonardo's work that simply…moreAbsolutely buy the book! It weighs four pounds and covers over 525 pages, many filled with excellent reproductions of Leonardo's work that simply don't come out on any e-book. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of holding a high quality actual book in your hands. It's the difference between hand writing a letter and typing it on a keyboard.(less)
Ananggadipa Raswanto You don't have to login IIRC, just go to the book page: and click the link on the bottom of the summary:…moreYou don't have to login IIRC, just go to the book page: and click the link on the bottom of the summary: Download the accompanying reference guide.

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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
”Although generally considered by his contemporaries to be friendly and gentle, Leonardo was at times dark and troubled. His notebooks and drawings are a window into his fevered, imaginative, manic, and sometimes elated mind. Had he been a student at the outset of the twenty-first century, he may have been put on a pharmaceutical regimen to alleviate his mood swings and attention-deficit disorder. One need not subscribe to the artist-as-troubled-genius trope to believe we are fortunate that Leon ...more
Bill Gates
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shortly after Melinda and I got married, I told her I was bidding on a notebook that could wind up costing a lot of money. “Don’t you already have a great portable computer?” she asked.

I explained that by “notebook,” I meant the old-fashioned kind. And by “old-fashioned,” I meant really old-fashioned, as in more than 500 years old. The notebook in question was one of the 32 surviving journals of Leonardo da Vinci.

After I won the bid, I broke a longstanding tradition. I was supposed to change the
Hannah Greendale
Marvelous! Isaacson's comprehensive biography is written to delight, to inform, and to inspire curiosity.

Video review to come in my March Wrap Up.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
“ How might you describe the tongue of a woodpecker?” And so it begins, in my ongoing attempt to learn more about important figures in history. This time, I turned to the latest biography by Walter Isaacson, exploring the life of Leonardo da Vinci. A man of many talents, da Vinci lived a full and exciting life as he sought to scratch the many itches that came to mind and paved the way for scores of significant discoveries. Isaacson offers a thorough and highly informative piece that will educate ...more
The audiobook is a fantastic production. It is in this manner non-fiction audiobooks should be made. You are given a huge PDF file with 144 pictures, a character list and a timeline. To get the most out of the audiobook one should sit by a computer and look at the pictures as one listens; the audiobook follows the pictures one by one in the order they are presented, each picture being referred to in the text. Each is minutely analyzed and discussed. A listener is given clear instructions stating ...more
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
“he never finished any of the works he began because, so sublime was his idea of art, he saw faults even in the things that to others seemed miracles.”
― Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci


This was an interesting biography, and an interesting approach, but it just wasn't great. Isaacson is one of those former editors of large, popular news magazines who can seemingly throw out a biography every couple years. He loves writing about transformative geniuses and polymaths, thus his books on: Steve J
Michael Finocchiaro
Honestly, I preferred Serge Bramly's 1991 Da Vinci biography to this one by Isaacson. I read (and reviewed here on GR) his biographies of Einstein and Ben Franklin, and found them both really good. In the present work, the author is way too present in my opinion and pitches his Steve Jobs biography on nearly every other page. OK, I am exaggerating but only a little bit. Did I learn some stuff about my favorite Renaissance Man? Yes, I did and I did appreciate the insight into the major works and ...more
Melody Sams
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you like a little psychology with your history, this is a book for you! It gives you a wonderful insight into the mind of one of the most fascinating men in human history. Da Vinci was quite the character. A bit enigmatic and mercurial. It was a delight learning more about his personality through this book.
Unlike many readers of this book who were well acquainted with Walter Isaacson and loved his previous works, I picked this biography being quite sceptical and absolutely unaware of how Isaacson approaches his subjects. His bibliography looks like a very impressive collection of genii of all sorts - Jobs, Einstein, Kissinger and Franklin. Surely, adding Leonardo da Vinci to this list must be tempting, but this task, if you ask me, was too difficult for Isaacson to handle.

Apparently, Isaacson can
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
Be curious, seek knowledge for its own sake, retain a childlike sense of wonder, observe, procrastinate…the life of Leonardo da Vinci does, indeed, offer a wealth of lessons.

I’ve always admired Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic prowess (aka Leonardo from Vinci, I didn’t know that) and thought of him as a Renaissance genius. but I didn’t know his story and what made him the “Leonardo da Vinci”. Now I know that he was not only a genius but also very human, which makes him more accessible.

“A renaissance
Barry Pierce
Walter Isaacson never makes Leonardo out to be anymore more than a human being. He points out that art history can often descend into hagiography, especially when it comes to its greatest minds. Both Vasari and Kenneth Clark placed Leonardo on a god-like pedestal, untouched by any other human in history and in possession of a truly divine mind. Isaacson does his best to refute this. He paints Leonardo as almost painfully human, as a man who rarely finished any of the jobs he began and whose atte ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is plenty to learn here about Leonardo DaVinci, and his art, its histories unravelled, codexes explained in ways, and the story of the process and people in the art work.
Detail, details meticulously written by the author, almost with obsession like mastery and a hugely accessible reading.
Mysteries of the man, the artist, scientist and engineer and the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa expounded in a glorious work of profound inspiration.
A multitude of
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Walter is a storyteller....If you have read his other bios, you already know this. Same situation here...but I must warn you....Leonardo was a very complicated man....a genius in his art....kept copious notes about everything he thought, felt, and dreamed about....he was a scientist,way ahead of his time,and he used science in his art, and mathematics in his paintings. Walter included all the vast details, because that's the type of person Leonardo was.....and while reading this book his paintin ...more
Dana Aprigliano (TheVaguelyArticulateReader)
Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. It is a 600 page-long biography which I read in a hardcover version so heavy it could probably shatter some bones if I dropped it on my foot. The pages are made of thick, glossy paper, and they are all littered with images of the pages of da Vinci’s journals, da Vinci’s various artworks, and more. The jacket, also made of a thick paper that I can only imagine the cost of mass production for, features a ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, zz-2017ng
Thank you, Net Galley for the opportunity to review this book --- as people who follow me know, I do not regurgitate what the book is about as that is what the description from the author and publisher at the top of the page are for.

This book is very well written.
This book is very long
This book has many interesting facts ... his paintings are mathematical and he was gay.
Did I mention that this book is very long???
This book is full of insane details...pages and pages and pages of insane details.
Matt Tandy
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Walter Isaacson has delivered an immensely readable, detailed and thoughtful biography on Leonardo DaVinci. With many pictures and sketches from DaVinci, the reader is really able to experience the richness of DaVinci’s talent as his extraordinary life story is told. And a story this is, as while Isaacson has done a tremendous amount of study from many different sources, this doesn’t read like an academic study. The book is always engaging, employing humour and getting to the heart of DaVinci as ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Leonardo went from seeking knowledge that could be of practical use and began seeking knowledge for its own sake, out of pure curiosity and joy"

A magnificent and fascinating read of the life and times of one of the most brilliant human beings that ever lived. Walter Isaacson's starting point for this biography was not his art masterpieces (The Last Supper, Mona Lisa) but rather his notebooks that he left and which survive to this day. They contain sketches and doodles, mathematics, anatomy, and
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thinkers-i-adore
The reason Leonardo has appealed to me is because I’m immensely charmed by the idea of a Renaissance Man, men who make no distinction between science and art, men who believe that the “infinite works of nature” are woven together in a unity filled with marvelous patterns. That’s why I LOVE Benjamin Franklin too and see him as a role model for my life, as he was a Leonardo of his era, and while he had no formal education,he taught himself to become an imaginative polymath, a scientist, inventor, ...more
Keep Calm Novel On
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Esmerelda Weatherwax
I love Walter Isaacsons biographies, they are always engaging, never dry, and I learn so much while being thoroughly entertained because it reads more like a novel many times rather than a dry non-fiction feel to it.

Leonardo is obviously one of the most world renown artists ever born, but there’s so much I didn’t know about him.

What I loved most was learning about his personality, which I knew nothing about. Sometimes when learning about one of histories greats you sort of cringe because they we
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, biography
I don’t have a lot to say about this [edit: coming back after my draft, I see I was mistaken], but in keeping with my New Year’s resolution to put down into words something about each book I read this year, here are my rambling thoughts.

First off, I heeded Chrissie’s advice, "To get the most out of the audiobook one should sit by a computer and look at the pictures as one listens." well, partial advice anyway.

As much as I love audiobooks, I did not want to have to be in front of the computer to
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Much of my review agrees with that stated by Netta in her review (, though she writes it much more eloquently.

Walter Isaacson presents the biography of Leonardo da Vinci, whose every action is so divine, that, surpassing all other men, it makes itself clearly known as a thing bestowed by God (as it is), and not acquired by human art. (Vasari, LIFE OF LEONARDO DA VINCI)

Where, I believe, Isaacson struggles in this book is thinking that one can just record
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
LEONARDO DA VINCI. (2017). Walter Isaacson. ****1/2.
The first thing I’d like to share is that you needn’t be afraid of the size of this book. It runs to 525 pages, plus notes and index. With my experience of reading other Isaacon’s books (“Ben Franklin,” and “Einstein”) I know his skill with the written word. He has the ability to capture the reader’s attention in such a way that the pages whizz past without your knowing it. This was especially true with this book because of the inclusion of so
Joseph Williams
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have read two of Isaacson's previous biographies (Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein). I particularly liked the Steve Jobs biography since the author was able to effectively get under his subject's skin due to his unique access to the subject. In the case of Leonardo da Vinci, Isaacson was unsuccessful in my opinon of bringing Da Vinci to life probably due to a lack of primary source material on the subject. That is always the bugbear of writing biographies of subjects from so long ago. In this bo ...more
Kimba Tichenor
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This book simply did not hold my interest, as there is too much idolatry and not enough analysis. Words, such as "wondrous," "brilliant", and "ingenious" should be used sparingly, even when discussing Leonardo da Vinci. Otherwise when something truly is wondrous, the reader will no longer care or believe.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Marvelous. This life was magnificent beyond any telling for his unique and kind (but often rascally) genius of such multiple skills and talents of mind set into a time that was both cruel and beautiful.

It's beyond my ability to describe Leonardo's scope. But the only star loss for the rating was in the weight and stiffness of the pages in this book. It was nearly impossible to hold and many of the photo plates/ pages so rigid I could not lay them flat enough to give their observation justice. I
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
6 out of 5 :D
গত বছর ওয়ালটার আইজযাকসনের লেখা ২টা বায়োগরাফি পড়েছিলাম। I believe he is one of the finest biographers of our time with uncompromising impenetrable passion for his books. গত বছর থেকেই ওঁর লেখা নতুন এই বায়োগরাফিটা বের হবার অপেকষায় ছিলাম। অবশেষে ...

Once again he has chosen such a marvellous personality of incredible genius for his book -
Leonardo da Vinci. বইটা পড়ে রিয়যাকশনঃ একটা মানুষ এত কিছু পারে কীভাবে! মূলত লিওনারদোর লেখা নোটবুক গুলোর উপর ভিততি করে ওয়ালটার তাঁর এই বইটিকে সাজিয়েছেন ৩
Rahul Matthew
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Greatness of this man lies in his quirkiness!!;
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is masterfully written, lavishly illustrated, and a prime example of intensive research. I had read The author’s biography of Steve Jobs, and also the Innovators which showed how collaboration through the years has brought us to the present digital era.

I knew some of Leonardo’s workbooks, journals, sketches and finished paintings were lost to history, but was amazed at how much still remains after more than 500 years. The author states that he was able to find a greater percentage of
allie (rosynovels)
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: college-reading
I recently took a course which focused on biography and really enjoyed the texts that had been selected; I wanted to continue reading biographies and Leonardo Da Vinci seemed like a fascinating subject.
I still think Leonardo is most likely a fascinating subject, but this book is long and very little of it explores his personal life. About the first two hundred pages are almost entirely art analysis, and it gets quite dry quite quickly in my opinion. My experience with biography is limited, and I
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Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of "Time" magazine. He is the author of "Steve Jobs"; "Einstein: His Life and Universe"; "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life"; and "Kissinger: A Biography," and the coauthor of "The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made." He lives in Washington, DC.
More about Walter Isaacson
“Vision without execution is hallucination. .. Skill without imagination is barren. Leonardo [da Vinci] knew how to marry observation and imagination, which made him history’s consummate innovator.” 10 likes
“Talent hits a target that no one else can hit,” wrote the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. “Genius hits a target no one else can see.”2 Because” 7 likes
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